Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Annual Hike to the Bass Pond

Alone on the Bass Pond
Sept. 14, 2013

  It was Friday during work that I thought I haven’t visited the bass pond this year. I checked the weather report and though it was suppose to be cool, around 65 degrees, there was no chance of rain. Being it was near a 45 minute hike through the forest to the pond, the rain thing matters. Last year I got caught in it and wasn’t planning on doing the same. Friday after worked I packed my float tube, chest waders and gear into my back pack. That evening I put the gear in my van for my annual pilgrimage to the bass pond.
  Saturday my internal alarm clock woke me at 7:00am. It was a mere 47 degrees outside so I took my time and made a double bacon, egg and cheese muffin. I wasn’t in any hurry to get out there in the chilly conditions. By the time I got to the parking area it was near 9am and I could already tell the temperature was changing but slowly. The sky on the other hand was still over cast. After mounting the pack on my back I made sure I had a good selection of cigars and flies. It was time to take a hike.

As I walked down the grassy trail I reminisced about all my earlier adventures to the pond. I learned to be patient and to float the pond as to not fin against the wind if at all possible. I had never fished the pond this late in the year so I wasn’t sure what to expect as conditions go. Usually I hit it on a hot August day but being September, and cooler conditions, I was just hoping for the best.
  There was a noticeable cool breeze that blew along the trail. The overcast sky didn’t give much hint what was to come. The gray and light clouds looked like a jigsaw puzzle spread out on a blue card table. They were sorted just not fitted together just yet. When I reached the point where I was in vision of the pond it looked just as I left it last year. The tall feeble trees stood within the water not to grow any higher. The brush along the pond was green and the surface looked to be washboard from the wind.
When I got to the last bend I knew it would only be another 50 yards to the place where I would pump up the float tube and prepare for my float.

 From on the earthwork dam the pond looked inviting as usual. A little more windy where I stood but I knew it would be a little calmer on the water, at least I was hoping. Finning against the wind all day isn’t that enjoyable to say the least and it makes it hard to pin point a cast between the lily growths. The weathered trunks of trees that rose from the water appeared to be ageless. The clouds above started to open up and let the sun shine through more often.

 I pumped up the float tube and filled it with my fly fishing gear. After donning on my fleece pants, the pond water is spring fed and though it is in the open doesn’t get warm as most ponds due, I put on my new chest waders. After assembling my 4 piece 9’6” Clearwater rod and I attached the mid arbor reel with wf5f 7 weight line. At the water I put on my flippers and I was ready for a day on the water.
 I finned over to the left side of the pond but the wind was against me. After a few casts and fighting the breeze I looked to the far side and noticed the water wasn’t so wavy. Checking out the situation I decided to fish the right side up to the distant bank and let the breeze blow me back towards my exit point. I decided to concentrate on fishing the lily beds and limb cover along the banks instead of blind casting in the deeper water around the rising feeble trees. As I crossed the deep section of water I just enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine when it shown itself.
  I already had a frog popper attached to the 8 lb tippet and threw a few casts along the lone island as I finned my way to the backside where the lily pad growth began. The wind didn’t seem to be too much of a problem and the water was much calmer. Slowly finning my way up the right bank I caught a couple of small bass but none worth a picture or to get excited about. What was telling is that they were interested in coming up for my popper so I stuck with it.
 I made a good cast towards an open cove of the water lily growth. The frog popper plopped and sat quietly for a moment. With a quick short tug the frog popper gurgled up some water. With smooth strips I started to swim the frog towards me and than the surface water erupted in a boiling spray of water. I yanked the rod back and felt the resisting force. He felt like a big one. He cleared the shallow cove as I watched the wake holding onto the cork grip tightly. He dove deeper to my left and tried to wrestle free. In a split second he rose and subsurface with a few tail swats that sprayed water about before he forced himself deep again flexing the rod deeper into the midsection. He turned and swam towards me and I figured he was going under my float tube. I held the 9’ 6” of rod out as far as possible with a locked wrist not giving him any more line so as not the get him tangled in my legs or flippers. He retreated with the rod pressure and surfaced again right out in front of me. After another skirmish I reeled in line and he splashed about until I got a thumb in his lower jaw!
  After that fine catch it was time for a rewarding cigar. I reached in the back pocket of the float tube and pulled out a Punch Churchill. I wet the outer leaf with my lips and tongue for a taste of the brown flavored outer tobacco. I nipper off the end cap and lit the end of the barrel with a cupped hand. Twirling the cigar between my lips and teeth I made sure the foot was lit around the edge for an even smoke. The tasty cigar was a nice reward for the nice bass I had just caught.

 Slowly moving and casting along the shore line lily beds it wasn’t long before I captured another bass that slurped up my offering. It wasn’t as big but put up a good battle.
 The next hour or so I started to circle my way towards the left side of the pond. I weaved my way in between the lily pad beds casting into channels and crevices that opened between the growth and stumps. At times I was able to touch bottom stirring up the dark brown sod that lay beneath. I was surprised I didn’t get one to rise to my frog popper. As I was working my way to the far bank I noticed a few dragon flies about. When I got within casting distance of the bank I knotted on a blue striped dragon fly pattern and cast it out within the slower pools of water. One cast put the dragon fly in a pocket of open water inside the lily pad growth. I was sure to draw a strike but the imitation sat there without notice. On my back cast I turned towards my next target and didn’t realize there was one of those feeble trees behind me within back casting range. When I went to cast forward I felt something grab the imitation from behind. I froze instantly not wanting to break off. As I turned I noticed the dragon fly dangling below a gray outstretched limb. With a couple of swings and tugs I found it was no use to try and convince the limb to give it up. I pulled the strong tapered leader until it snapped. After knotting on a length of 3X tippet I continued on my expedition with another frog popper.
My cast fell short of my intended target area near a stump that was a few feet from the weedy bank. I started to swim it back for the next cast when the water surface noisily exploded and water erupted where my popper should have been. I reared back on the rod, with my line hand holding the fly line tightly. I felt the strength of the fish between my fingers and cork grip as the rod flexed outward. I let line slip through my fingers as the fish dropped below and struggled beneath. All of a sudden I felt the rod relax within my grip and straighten as the tension eased between my line hand fingers. I watched as the frog came to the surface and wavered with the swirls just caused by the commotion. I just started to swim the frog back in disgust when WHAM, in a blink, the bass rose and clobbered the frog again right before my eyes. I yanked back the rod with authority and felt the rod bend above me. The bass took deep with authority and I moved the bowed rod in front of me and let him take tensioned line off the spinning spool. He whirled around to my left and my float tube turned freely upon the water surface with me holding the cork grip tightly without any footage below. He struggled outward but the pressure of rod and reel drag took its toll. As I felt him tiring I steadily reeled in line as he tugged. Nearer the float tube I avoided the popper and brought him to the apron.
 After that catch I lit up a La Perla Casadore. The Habana Criollo outer leaf and Dominican inner tobacco made for a good enjoyable medium smoke for the last hour of fishing. I caught a couple more small bass in the general area and a very hungry bluegill. Later on I caught one more nice size largemouth before calling it a day.

 Up on the earthwork I let the deflated float tube and chest waders dry under the sun while I started packing the other gear in my back pack. I took one more glance out over the pond before putting on the pack ready for my departure. Along the trail I listened to the birds’ chirping and a few chipmunks scampering about. The leaves rustled with each gust of wind and the cool air felt good. I surprised a few deer in a field and they leaped across the trail in front of me making their escape. When I reached the gated trail my van sat in the parking area alone beneath the setting sun. I packed my gear inside and took my time driving down the dirt road to the main road.
It turned out to be an enjoyable successful adventure and now it was time to get some wings and a few brewskies at the Kelly hotel.


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